Ripple had a bit of surge while I was away. It’s a cryptocurrency that has attracted a lot of debate, and here’s a very fair synthesis of that debate from Farzam Ehsani:

the ripple debate

Ripple: Not A ‘True’ Cryptocurrency?

My suspicion is that you’ll only have a big problem with Ripple if you’re committed to core crypto-ideology. To quote Satoshi Nakamoto:

“The root problem with conventional currencies is all the trust that’s required to make it work. The central bank must be trusted not to debase the currency, but the history of fiat currencies is full of breaches of that trust.”

That is: the central point of any cryptocurrency ought to be the devolution of trust away from the hands of corruptible individuals and institutions, and instead, the outsourcing of that trust into a decentralised network, and the mathematical structure that underlies it #theGodprotocol.

But if you’re not a believer in that ideology, then Ripple looks a lot like an excellent disruptor of the international payments system as it stands.

It would not overturn a system that is built on centralisation – instead, it would help the current centralised banking system to work more efficiently. At least, to begin with.

Here’s an infographic that explains it:

infographic guide to ripple

Speaking as someone who regularly complains about the international payments system, almost anything would be an improvement. Because I’m pretty sure that current system still works via carrier pigeon.

Although if I had the option, I’d be buying into Ripple (the company) rather than Ripple (the token).

But perhaps that’s just me.

Rolling Alpha posts opinions on finance, economics, and sometimes things that are only loosely related. Follow me on Twitter @RollingAlpha, and on Facebook at Also, check out the RA podcast on iTunes: The Story of Money.